Illinois Celebrates U.S. 20 Being Named Medal of Honor Highway
As part of the ongoing movement to name U.S. Highway 20 as Medal of Honor Highway, a ceremony was held Sunday in Galena to honor a hometown Civil War hero.
Sgt. Henry H. Taylor received the Medal of Honor in 1863 for his actions at the Battle at Vicksburg. He became the first Union soldier to plant the country's flag during the battle on June 25, 1863.
Under the leadership of General Ulysses S. Grant, the Union victory at the Battle of Vicksburg was significant to the war effort. With the capture of Vicksburg and subsequent capture of Port Harbor five days later, the Union took control of the entirety of the Mississippi River.
The State of Illinois is part of the effort to rename the longest road in the United States, spanning 3,365 miles from Boston, Massachusetts, to Newport, Oregon.
The State of Iowa celebrated with official ceremonies in 2021.
About two-thirds of all 3,508 Medal of Honor awards since 1863 are associated with the 12 states connecting Highway 20: Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York, and Massachusetts.
Illinois has been home to 199 Medal of Honor recipients. Iowa has been home to 96 recipients.
The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force, which is bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States. The individual action must have been one of personal bravery or self-sacrifice so clearly understood to distinguish the individual above his comrades. It must have also involved risk of life.
The first Medal of Honor was awarded to Army Pvt. Jacob Parrot, and five others, on March 25, 1863, for their service in the Civil War.